Child Malnutrition and the Environment: How Women’s Work in Collecting Environmental Goods Affects Children’s Health in Malawi

Flora J. Nankhuni, Harvard University
Jill L. Findeis, Pennsylvania State University

Half of Malawi children are stunted. Malawi also has a high infant mortality rate. Malnutrition contributes to this problem and to lower children’s education. Several studies have analyzed determinants of malnutrition in Africa. However few have analyzed the link between the environment and malnutrition. This paper contributes to this scanty literature using data from 1997-98 Malawi national survey. Determinants of stunting are estimated using a probit model that includes water and fuel wood collection hours among explanatory variables. Longer water collection hours are associated with increased probability of child stunting while women’s self-employment is associated with lower probability of stunting. A multinomial logit model of women’s choice of main activity is also estimated. Women in degraded areas are less likely to be self-employed. These results imply that environmental degradation contributes to child’s lower nutrition by increasing women’s time spent on environmental goods collection and by lowering women’s participation in income-generating activities.

  See paper

Presented in Session 103: Population and Environment: Water and Land Resources